Is Botox dangerous?

Jess Ting, MD
Plastic Surgery

If given in high-enough doses, Botox can be fatal. However, the doses used to treat facial wrinkles are far below the doses which cause death. The side effects that can be seen with cosmetic doses of Botox include bruising, headaches, and droopy eyelids. That being said, Botox can markedly improve forehead wrinkles, frown lines and Crow's feet.

Botox used for cosmetic purposes is generally quite safe. This has been well-supported by multiple scientific studies. There have been previous reports of death from Botox use. However, these cases involved Botox used for reconstructive purposes and involved large amounts of Botox. These doses are not typically used in cosmetic cases, where Botox is used to treat wrinkles. There are risks with any type of procedure, including Botox. The risks of Botox related to cosmetic treatments, while rare, tend to be localized and temporary.

Yes. Because it blocks neurotransmitters in muscles and makes them relax, Botox inadvertently can relax muscles other than the ones that cause wrinkles. If it relaxes muscles that control the lungs or esophagus, death can result. The FDA in 2008 issued warnings about Botox after 16 people died after the injections and 87 others were hospitalized from adverse reactions. Doctors recommend Botox customers seek medical help immediately if they experience droopy eyelids, dry mouth, slurred speech or difficulty swallowing.

Patricia Farris, MD

Botox is just like any medication in that there are risks and benefits. While there have been reports of distal spread in patients receiving botulinum toxin A injections those most at risk for distal spread appear to be children and adults treated for muscle spasms and those patients who might have underlying medical conditions that could make these symptoms more likely. Additionally, there have been long term safety studies published in patients who have received three repeated doses of botulinum toxin A in the upper face for cosmetic purposes. These studies demonstrated that repeat treatments are both safe and effective.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.